When you have a name like, "The Chosen Wan", you are sure to get attention, especially when you are dealing in a sport that deals with flashiness like boxing. Mohammad Ridhwan tells us his training methods, why he loves to run, and what he sees in his future for boxing.
Q. Firstly, this is a question you must get asked so often…why did you pick, ”The Chosen Wan” as your nickname?
Ridhwan: Funny thing is, this is the first time I’ve been asked this. For the record, I did not come up with that name. Arvind Lalwani, President of the Singapore Fighting Championship, started calling me that casually, but then other people started picking it up and I guess it stuck, hahahaha.
Q. In your field, where arm strength is key, why do you devote two days a week for long-distance running?
Ridhwan: Contrary to popular belief, arm strength is not the key in my field. Strong legs are the key. Everything starts from the legs. The stronger my legs are, the better I am at transferring power from my lower body to the upper body. This leads to stronger and harder punches. Not only that, long distance running builds endurance, stamina and more importantly,mental strength. During the long-distance runs, I have time to myself and this enables me to visualise what my environment is going to be like in the ring on fight night.
Q. Walk us through your training runs. Is there a specific type of training you devote yourself to when running long -distance?
Ridhwan: I go for long distance runs 3 times a week 8km, 10km or up to 12km. I do include short hill sprints, climbing up stairs and interval runs in my long- distance runs. The proper term boxers use for this type of training is “roadwork”.
On other days, I do sprints on levelled ground. I change the length of the distance constantly so that my body will always feel challenged and I will see the need to always push myself.
On Sundays, I will usually go on a 5km slow/medium pace recovery run. Coach Arab from Juggernaut Fight Club, my conditioning coach, likes to say “Roadwork is not merely training. It’s a lifestyle”.
Q. People often say that boxing is a violent sport that promotes brutalism. What would you say to that?
Ridhwan: I haven’t heard anyone saying that to my face, it is a very physical sport, but it is definitely not brutal. Boxing is the original gentleman’s sport! It promotes character and sportsmanship. Although it has its risks, that is something we chose to do and it makes boxing no different from other sports.
Q. How are the preparations for your big match going?
Ridhwan: Preparations have been great. It’s a lot of hard work and that is how we like it and want it to be. My team and I approach every training camp like it could be our last. We never know what is going to happen tomorrow so we always give our 100%, and then some. We got the rounds of sparring that we need, awesome strength and conditioning sessions and I’m mentally prepared for anything that could happen in the ring on April 8th .
Q. What do you do in your downtime at this point in your training?
Ridhwan: I train full time but at the same time, I work full time as well. I run my own boxing gym, Legends Fight Sport and in between training, I’m there to conduct classes and do personal coaching. I also manage an amateur boxing team so I’m kept busy. If I do have the time to relax, I’m usually just chilling, reading or catching up on movies online.
Q. What’s your routine that you do immediately before a big match? Do you listen to music or have any particular activities to get yourself in the proper frame of mind?
Ridhwan: I’m a man of the mood. Sometimes I’m intense, anxious, calm, agitated, overly excited or nervous. I do not have a specific routine or ritual. Few hours before stepping into the ring, I can still be seen smiling, talking and joking around. Once my coach starts to wrap my hands though, I slowly change into another person. It’s like my mind and body automatically knows it’s time to prepare for battle. I will reach a stage of calm confidence. That’s the best frame of mind to be in for me.
Q. What’s the biggest misconception one would have about the local boxing community in Singapore?
Ridhwan: I guess one of the biggest misconception is that the local boxing community is dying or worse, dead. That is definitely not true. The local boxing scene is full of life with many amateur and professional boxing events going on! Not only are there a number of local men in the scene, there is an increase of local women taking up the sport in Singapore as well as expats.
It is not a small community and you will be given the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds who each have unique stories on why they took up the sport. We’re always growing and boxing is not dying. Boxing is here to stay!
Q. How far do you want to go in your boxing career?
Ridhwan: I want to go as far as my body and mind will allow me to. A career in professional boxing requires tremendous amount of commitment, dedication, hard work and sacrifice. But I know all good things must one day come to an end and one day I will have to hang my gloves once I feel that I don’t like the hard work, or that I don’t look forward to training anymore.
That is when I know I will have to quit. But before that happens, I want to win big fights and make a name for myself, my gym and my country.
Q. What kind of training would you recommend an aspiring boxer?
Ridhwan: In terms of training, I would tell him or her to master the jab and footwork. Never forget the physical conditioning that boxing demands. Practice, practice and practice some more.
I would also tell this aspiring boxer to take it slow, master the basics and most importantly enjoy the process. You need to love what you do because it is going to get tough and there will be many reasons to quit but if you love the sport, you will go places.
Q. Had life led you down a different path where would we find you today and what would you be doing?
Ridhwan: I cannot really see myself doing anything else to be honest. However, if I was never part of the boxing scene, I might probably have been a paramedic, or an owner of a café or bistro. I also have an interest in motorbike racing although it’s hard to tell if I would have even done that competitively but that would have been pretty cool.
Q. In five words, explain why people should take up boxing.
Ridhwan: Best way to know yourself.
Q. How far do you think Singapore can go in the International boxing arena?
Ridhwan: Singapore can go very far, no doubt. However, it is important to note that a lot of work Needs to be done to make it prosper and make it big in the international scene. We need more support from fellow Singaporeans and as boxers, we have to do our part, which is to train hard and win.